Leadership discussion: who is qualified?

Dear Parents,

All of us want our children to be leaders. Yet there are some widely held beliefs that simply are not true, unless we allow them to be so. In the words of Mel Martinez, who was the Secretary of HUD in the early part of this decade, “Leadership is not for the few, it’s for everyone….We should operate on the assumption that every child has the capacity for leadership in one way or another.”

I would agree with his statement despite a widely held belief that leadership is a rare gift that only a select few have. That leadership is for those blessed with a quality called charisma and even attractiveness. Some also falsely believe that leadership should be coming from the top of an organization only.

It is easy to see that a bit of good looks and charisma will not hurt, there have been many leaders that were not gifted that way. Think of Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Gandhi, all of whom demonstrated great leadership under some very trying circumstances that had nothing to do with charisma or attractiveness. Neither is leadership about wielding power, as most people do not like to be bossed around.

There are all kinds of leaders. Some are loud and some are quiet. And I believe that anyone can become a leader, they can use their own personality and style and simply be themselves and still move others to action. So we will focus on this month the things that make leaders – leaders.

As teachers / parents our job is to give our children the training, the support, the encouragement, the confidence, the motivation, and the opportunities to lead. Then we should set them loose and let them lead. You are going to be amazed at what they do with their abilities and what they can achieve. More important with every success they will be strengthened to step up and lead again and again.

One of our highest goals here at Balanced Life Skills is to create leaders of our students. Not just leaders on the mat helping others learn martial arts skills, but leaders in their community. We have seen some outstanding examples of this with our students and their projects. There is even more to come.

The definitions of leadership are as follows:
Young students: “I make great choices so follow me!”
Older students/teens/adults: Inspiring people into action to achieve a common goal.

During the four weeks of September we will be discussing the following:
Week 1: What is a leader, what does a leader do, and why do we need them?
Week 2: Leadership Skills: Group goals and taking initiative
Week 3: Leadership Skills: Listening and communicating effectively
Week 4: Leadership Skills: Weighing pros and cons and taking responsibility

In the months to come we will be discussing

October: Responsibility November: Patience December: Friendship

As always, one of the best ways to teach and reinforce Leadership is by modeling strength of character ourselves. Discuss the ways you show leadership skills each day and point out the ways your children do the same. As parents, employees, bosses, and mentors, what kinds of leadership skills must you use each day?

We thank you for your support. You are pivotal in helping to make our school one of the best Martial Arts and personal development centers in the world. Please be sure to get your Leadership worksheets on the curriculum pages for your students age group at the new student site BLS Students!  You will need to register before getting your worksheets.


How important is gratitude?

A note from one of my mentors:
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Throughout our childhood our parents taught us to say ‘thank you’ and it became a habit – something we say automatically, along with ‘please’. And because of this we have forgotten just how important gratitude is and how essential it is in leading fulfilled lives.
So why is gratitude important?
Just for a minute, think of all the things you are grateful for, such as, loving friends, partners and family, pets who love you unconditionally, good health, great holidays you’ve had, as well as everyday items such as a comfortable home, electricity, TV, fridge, and clean water when you turn on the tap.
The list, in fact, could go on and on. So how does that make you feel when you think of all these things? Doesn’t it make you feel good?
Now focus on events that have made you unhappy or dissatisfied – it’s raining, the car won’t start, a work colleague irritates you, you have a head cold. You start to feel grumpy and resentful, and that is something that certainly does not feel good – in fact it feels bad!
So which would you prefer? To feel good? Or to feel bad?
It’s a straightforward choice and we have the ability to choose how we feel. But for most of us, it just doesn’t seem as easy as that – isn’t the world out to get us? Well, no, it isn’t actually, it’s just our perception of how things are.
Let me give you an example: it’s a wet, rainy day, and immediately most people will start to complain, tell everyone who will listen what a miserable day it is, with the result that they end up feeling miserable themselves.
But look at it another way and despite wet clothes and hair, both will dry perfectly well and no lasting harm has been done. And in addition to this, because of rain, we not only live in a green and beautiful landscape, we are able to grow an abundance of fruit and vegetables.
There really is no obvious reason for feeling miserable – in fact there is a great deal to be grateful for. It’s all to do with how we perceive things.
We can alter our perceptions – our view of how the world is and how things affect us. And when we do that, then we can start to feel gratitude and as a consequence, start to feel good!
So here are a few suggestions to help you get started: Continue reading “How important is gratitude?”